Quick, open up Google Image Search in a new tab and search for the phrase “completely wrong.” What comes up? Hundreds of pictures of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Over the past week, Romney’s name has been curiously linked with the phrase “completely wrong,” causing him to become practically the only image result for the phrase. So how did this happen?
This actually isn’t the first time a high-level politician has been unwittingly linked to an extremely unflattering Google keyword.
In 2007, pranksters engineered a “Google bomb” to associate the phrase “miserable failure” with then-President George Bush. For a couple of weeks, the number one search result for “miserable failure” was Bush’s personal page at the White House website.
The difference here, however, is that while the “miserable failure” link to Bush was an intentional effort on the part of anti-Bush activists, the link between Romney and the phrase “completely wrong” seems to be entirely accidental.
See, a few days back, Romney came out with a statement apologizing for his behind-closed-doors remarks about “47 percent of the people” in America who mooch off the government. In his apology statement, Romney said he was “just completely wrong” about his earlier speech.
When hundreds of news sources began covering Romney’s apology, they all heavily featured the phrase “completely wrong.” The high-volume use of such a specific phrase caused Google’s algorithms to save “completely wrong” as a keyword.
At the same time, all of those news sources had pictures of Mitt Romney attatched to his apology. Google also learned to associate those pictures with the specific keyword “completely wrong.”
And so before long, anyone who searched for the phrase “completely wrong” in Google Image Search would get the most recent, seemingly relevant results for the phrase. In this case, hundreds of pictures of Mitt Romney.
Some sites hostile to the candidate noticed this unintentional link and began spreading the meme that Romney is, in fact, “completely wrong” for America. Social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter were full of posts laughing at the “completely wrong” line.
And now that so many news sources are covering the link between Romney and the phrase “completely wrong,” it looks like it’s much less likely to fade away soon unless Google steps in and specifically removes the keyword through their own brand of Internet black magic.